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Manchester United Solidified Top Four Hopes

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Manchester United tightened their grip on a top-four spot by beating Everton 2-0 at Old Trafford, where they are now unbeaten in 24 games in all competitions – a run that stretches back to September 2022. 

Despite playing for the third time in six days, United got off to a fast start and showed no signs of tiredness as they ran the Everton defence ragged throughout the first half. The Red Devils had a total of 21 shots on goal in the opening 45, a league record for any half this season, and yet it took until the 36th minute to break the deadlock. A passage of possession was capped off by Jadon Sancho playing an intricate pass through the Toffees defence to release Scott McTominay, who continued his rich run of goalscoring form, finishing superbly from a tight angle.

The goal came as a relief to the Old Trafford crowd as it seemed like it was going to be one of those afternoons where the ball was just not going into the back of the net. Pickford had made countless saves to deny Antony on several occasions, Marcus Rashford and Marcel Sabitzer, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed an open goal as United could have gone into the HT break out of sight with at least four goals, but had to settle for just the one.

Sean Dyche’s side came out a much-improved outfit for the second half as they applied pressure on the United goal but without truly testing David de Gea. As the Toffees committed more men forward it was almost playing into the hands of United, who looked increasingly dangerous on the counterattack. The home side almost grew their lead on the break but for yet another Pickford save as the England number one palmed a Bruno Fernandes looping header over the bar after the Portuguese was superbly picked out by Sabitzer.

United’s lead was eventually doubled with 20 minutes remaining after Everton captain Seamus Coleman miscontrolled a long ball up the pitch, allowing Rashford to pounce and square the ball for Anthony Martial to tap-in. A fine Saturday afternoon for Erik ten Hag’s men was blighted by the sight of Rashford pulling up injured late on with the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie against Sevilla coming up on Thursday, but the Dutchman will no doubt be delighted his side continued their 100% win record on Saturday midday kick-offs this season with a fourth victory. A concerning defeat for Everton, though, who could find themselves in the drop zone if results elsewhere go against them.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=86912

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